Multimodal Essay Guide: How to Write plus Useful Tips and Tricks

Last Updated: 16 November 2021

How to write a multimodal essay


When it comes to learning how to write a multimodal essay, it might seem like a tedious task in the eyes of beginners, but once you master the steps, tips, and tricks of writing one, you will be writing as though you are an expert in no time.


In this article, we discuss the definition of a multimodal essay, the modes of communication to feature in multimodal exposition, and show you the step-by-step guide with an outline, cheat sheet, checklist, and examples.


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What is a Multimodal Essay?


Unlike the traditional texts, multimodal texts use multimodal composing that extends beyond the alphabetic to include a combination of sound, images, colors, animation, and text. In most instances, the multimodal texts demonstrate effective use of multimodal exposition, which is displayed in a predominantly digital space.


A multimodal essay refers to a formal, comprehensive essay that combines two or more mediums of composing, such as photography, audio, printed text, video, magazine-cut-outs, website, blog, video game, or hypertext web document, etc. it is a piece of assignment meant to expose you to different modes of composing. It is often a digital essay where you do things differently than you would do if you were limited to printing on paper. It is often read, assessed, and graded onscreen.


Although there are other forms of multimodal expression, such as events, fashion objects, costumes, sets, etc., the aim of this guide is limited to multimodal essays.


A multimodal research essay is substantive, researched, imaginative, carefully composed, organized/designed, and edited. In most cases, students write a multimodal essay for their digital portfolio. You might do the draft first then refine it after getting comments and feedback from your peers in class.


Multimodal essays are one of the many ways of multimodal composing. It is categorized as hybrid multimodal composition, the same way as photo essays. It can also be a video essay. Multimodal essays are comprehensive and cohesive essays that combine written text with compelling audio and visual elements that are artistically arranged to present persuasive or informative claims effectively. Like a normal essay, multimodal essays also have a thesis.


Examples of Multimodal Essay Prompts


Prompt 1: Compose an imaginative text of no more than 700 words to reflect your understanding of human experiences related to one of the following areas that you have focused on in class:



The type of text you choose may be a short story, a script, a performance poem, or a different kind of text approved by your teacher. Your teacher will provide three lessons in class for you to write, conference, and/or edit your work, and the final version will be submitted on the due date.


Prompt 2: Choose any topic that you want to argue. It must be specific, locally or regionally oriented, and something you are interested in. Therefore, choose an issue that you think has the most potential as a digital and multimodal project.


Prompt 3: What’s something crazy or intriguing that has happened in Lubbock in the past?


Prompt 4: Evaluate the advertising techniques of a major popular brand. Select several ads—both from print media (magazine, newspaper, billboard) and from electronic media (television, film, website)—and evaluate how they succeed or fail to fulfill their ultimate goal: to “sell products.”


How to Select a Multimodal Essay Topics


Even though some instructors give a prompt for your multimodal essay, most of them assume that you will use your multiliteracy skills to select a topic and compose a good topic.


Choosing the right topic is important as it determines whether you can precisely locate the resources by defining the scope of your essay. Arguably, the process of multimodal essay topic selection is by itself a research process.


This means that you don’t have to rush and pick a topic immediately after being assigned an essay. Instead, you need to conduct research based on the theme of the course you are studying. Researching the topics and letting research guide us to test the topics is the best advice we would give to any student writing a multimodal essay.


You can research for the relevance and volume of the resources available before eventually picking a topic. You should focus on current contemporary issues. We have a list of social issues that you can start to brainstorm from.


When selecting a topic, never go for too broad or too narrow a topic. For instance, a topic like “what is the cause of homelessness?” is rather too broad. Even though broad topics are great starters to create a narrow topic eventually.


A topic like “what is the cause of overcrowding in animal shelters in orange county?” is also too narrow as it would be difficult to contextualize the paper to other settings. But when you write about “the factors leading to animal shelter overcrowding,” it would be a good topic.


To get a good topic, check for sources like images, charts, tables, statistics, and any materials that matter.


A good topic would be “The impacts of the loss of religious staffing on Catholic and Lutheran Schools performance.”


Tricks of multimodal Essay Topic Selection


Having the importance of an essay topic in mind, here are some tricks and hacks to keep you going.



Checklist for writing a Winning Multimodal Essay


When writing your multimodal essay, ensure that it:



Five Modes of Communication


To demonstrate effective use of multimodal exposition when writing an essay, you must communicate the different modes. There are five modes of communication: visual, linguistic, spatial, gestural, and aural modes.



A multimodal text or essay can combine the various modes of communication. For a clear communicative essay, you need to follow a writing process that entails invention, drafting, and revision. As you write the essay, think about how the final draft will address or not address the potential audience. Let us now delve into how to make a multimodal essay.


Steps to Compose a Good Multimodal Essay


The process of writing a traditional essay is the same writing process you follow when writing a multimodal essay. So let’s elaborate on it to make things clearer. These strategies have been tried and tested by our English tutors; thus, we are confident they are reliable and can lead you to success.


Step 1: Read the Prompt


Before attempting any piece of assignment, you should begin by reading the prompt. The prompt helps you unpack the question, choose a good title, settle on a preliminary thesis, and plan your essay. This is a no-brainer, but some people take it casually, which is often the beginning of their failure.


As you read the prompt, you need to unpack the question through:



Step 2: Plan your essay


After reading the prompt, you need to brainstorm your rhetorical situation, consider the purpose of your text, audience, genre, and medium of presenting the essay.


When brainstorming, it is best also to scratch the web for research that supports or refutes your major claims. Again, it helps you to contextualize the message that you want to present to your audience.


During this process:



Step 3: Review and analyze other Multimodal essays


After brainstorming the rhetorical situation and picking a topic, stance, or clam, you need to look at other essays or texts representing the topic and genre.


Find a text that you believe is an exceptional sample of what you need your essay to look like in the end and analyze how the authors present, style, and format their ideas.


Although this is not a must, getting inspiration from what others have written helps you bolster the strength of your writing by addressing their weaknesses.


Step 4: Gather content (Conduct research)


With a rough idea of crafting a perfect multimodal essay, you need to gather information and materials. A multimodal essay must have a content that you can only develop through in-depth research.


The extent of the research will be defined by your themes, examples, and claims. You need to dig deep into scholarly research to develop the ideas in your essay. Collect the aural and visual materials that relate to the content of your essay. When selecting this content, look for openly licensed materials such as Creative Commons licenses (CC). You can use websites like Free Music Archive (FMA), Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), or CC search.


At the same time, focus on organizing the scholarly sources you gather online for the linguistic mode part of your assignment.


Step 5: Write your first draft


When you are finally ready to begin writing, you are sure that you have your ideas, arguments, claims, thesis, images, visuals, sounds, and examples. It is all about putting these together to create sophisticated prose with images, sounds, and other modes of communication.


You need to begin with developing the body paragraphs. The body paragraph has the topic sentence, examples/claim/evidence, link, and the concluding sentence. You can follow the TEEL or PEEL format of paragraph development for cohesive, comprehensive, and creative paragraphs.


Ensure that each body paragraph contains only one idea. Use evidence effectively by:



Include the relevant images, audio, or any other aspect that brings out the five modes of communication as advised in the prompt.


Step 6: Write the Introduction


When you are done with the body paragraphs, you now have a perspective of the flow of your essay. To create a lasting first impression, your essay introduction must:



You can polish the preliminary thesis into a final thesis. Summarize the relevance of your essay in the introduction. You are allowed to use the first person in multimodal composition, but that is subject to the permissions on the prompt. Ask your instructor if you are unsure.


Step 7: Write the conclusion


The conclusion should be the last thing you are writing in your multimodal essay. It has to create a lasting impression on your reader. Although it is the easiest to write, you need to be extra careful.


When writing the conclusion:



With the essay done as a first draft, you can seek feedback from your peers or a professional editor.


Step 8: Edit and Proofread the entire Text


With everything done, you now need to polish the first draft into a final draft. Then, based on the comments from your peers, professors, or editor, make changes to your essay to have a great multimodal essay for a final draft.


Edit and proofread the essay. Focus on the formatting, style, and organization of your essay entirely. Check the complex and straightforward grammar errors. Remove any spelling mistakes and ensure that your paragraphs are well-balanced. If there are missing citations, be sure to indicate them rightfully to avoid plagiarism.


Ensure that all the images, visuals, multimedia texts, and writings are well-cited, strategically placed and that the reader is directed to understand their meaning.


After editing, run the essay through grammar and plagiarism checkers to see what parts are unoriginal and paraphrase further.


Step 9: Submit through an Appropriate Channel


This is always the last step. You will now upload the final draft on Canvas, Blackboard, or whatever platform your school uses. Since you are sure about the quality of your essay, it is a step that brings joy that you have offloaded one assignment off your assignment list.


Only hit the submit button after confirming that everything in the file is right. For example, it has your name, course details, your university’s name, the course code, and name, etc.


Steps to Polish your Multimodal Essay like a Pro


According to our essay editors, here are some top steps that can help you proofread and edit your essay. When done right, your essay should have improved quality and be set for an excellent grade.


Check Grammar


It is important to edit for grammar and style as you revise your paper.



Check style


As you finally polish your essay, it is also important to:



Mind your Tenses


It is a piece of formal writing. Therefore, ensure that you mostly write in the present tense unless writing in the past tense is justified. Present tense helps you to organize ideas and avoid confusing the readers. In addition, it makes a paper straightforward to read.


Be strict on Plagiarism


Plagiarism is a punishable offense in all academic institutions. You have your chance to polish an essay before finally submitting it. If you want to hire someone to fix your plagiarism, you can use our service.


Now, to manage plagiarism:



Vocabulary


We will forever insist that there is nobleness in simplicity. Therefore, avoid using huge words and vocabularies, even though you are encouraged to use different words to demonstrate your understanding of the facts in your essay.


You can use a thesaurus to expand your vocabulary during research to contextualize phrases where necessary.


Titling


Have a catchy title that creates a lasting first impression. Then, even though your introduction counts, the title is the first contact with your reader and the multimodal essay.


A captivating title will stick out from the rest and should be relevant to your work.


Examples of Multimodal Essays


You can find multiple multimodal essay examples online. We have included links to some of them to help you effectively compose a creative multimodal essay.



  1. Poor Millenials by Michael Hobbes

  2. Adidas is all in! by Jasmin

  3. Impacts of technology on family communication and bonding by Mihaela Marler

  4. Multimodal assignment samples from the University of Connecticut

  5. How to compose multimodal presentation by Matrix Education

  6. A New Medium on Medium by Jackson

  7. Inside Boston University’s Dog Pound by Lisa Dukart

  8. The Life and Death of an Amazon Warehouse Temp by Dave Jamieson

  9. What Blogging Has Become by Robinson Meyer

  10. The end of New York Exceptionalism by Warren Hoffman


Note that these are student multimodal essay examples (some are from professionals). Although well-written, some samples above do not guarantee you a great pass. They are meant to show you how to approach the writing process.


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Parting Shot!


Depending on the topic you are assigned, the question on the prompt, and your field of study, you might be required to complete a multimodal essay.


Do not freak out when you get such an assignment. It is just like the traditional essay, only that you spice it up with images, fonts, visuals, audio, and other modes of communication. For instance, when you are writing a multimodal essay about covid, you can choose to focus on vaccines, front-line workers, death, PTSD, Depression, aviation, global business, recession, etc.


Think outside the box because everybody else is going to write about the topical things. Using the steps we outlined above, you will definitely get to a top-grade multimodal essay. You can easily score an A. Above all, make it as simple as possible because vocabularies rob you of the best grades. As long as it is organized, furnished, supported/inked, and presented well, you are good to go.